URC: Edinburgh v Scarlets: Jamie Ritchie says home play-off is still the target

Flanker believes capital outfit should be looking for five wins from five remaining regular season matches

Jamie Ritchie says Edinburgh are ready for a strong end to the season. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Jamie Ritchie says Edinburgh are ready for a strong end to the season. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

JAMIE RITCHIE says that Edinburgh are targeting five wins from their five remaining games of the URC regular season in order to secure a top four finish and book a home draw in the play-offs.

The capital outfit dropped out of the top eight after back-to-back defeats in South Africa against the Stormers and the Sharks in their two most recent URC outings at the end of last month, but will draw confidence from a home win over Bayonne and then an improved showing against the Stormers in the Challenge Cup during the last fortnight.

Sean Everitt‘s side are back at the Hive Stadium for the first time since 1st March [the Bayonne game was moved to Murrayfield because of Storm Kathleen] on Saturday night when they will take on Scarlets, and flanker Ritchie says the team are determined to make that the start of a winning streak which will also take in encounters against Cardiff away, Zebre at home, Munster at home and Benetton away.


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“Obviously we’d prefer to be in the mix in both but I think it makes our plan ahead pretty clear – we know what we need to do to be where we want to be, so that’s the silver-lining of us being out of Europe,” said Ritchie, reflecting on the end of the Edinburgh’s Challenge Cup adventure for this season.

“Five wins gets us in the top four, which is where we want to be with a home quarter-final. But, I think [we need to] just keep improving like we have been doing and then put away these opportunities we have been creating.

“That middle part of the league is so close that it changes from one week to the next,” he added. “I think there is one point between us and eighth at the moment so it’s not a huge concern. We’re confident with the run-in that we’ve got that we can put some points on the board and climb all the way up that log.

“We firmly believe we can win all our games on the run-in. I don’t think that is an unattainable goal. But these teams below us are fighting for something as well so we certainly know there are no easy games in there.”

There is a very real chance Edinburgh will end up facing Glasgow in the play-offs and Ritchie insisted his team would relish that opportunity.

“It would be really good fun,” he said. “The good thing about that is that we know we beat them earlier on in the season, and it would be a one-off game – as play-offs tend to be – so we would be confident that we could go there and put in a good performance.”

Meanwhile, the flanker expects to find out when he meets up with Gregor Townsend this week if he is going to be selected to tour the Americas with Scotland this summer, as he battles to regain his place as a starter in the national team.

It has been a long old season once last Autumn’s World Cup and its build-up is taken into consideration, but the 27-year-old says he is not concerned about physical or mental fatigue as he looks towards the summer.

“I think even if I do go, I’ll get a decent break, so I’ll be fine either way,” he said.

“We play a tough sport and every year when you get to this end of the season your body feels like you are maybe not reaching as high in the gym, you are more just looking forward to getting yourself right for the weekend. It’s just the nature of the beast sometimes and we’ve all been in this position before.

“Overall, the body is feeling pretty good and I feel like I’m playing well, so I’m just excited for the run-in.”


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About David Barnes 4001 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

5 Comments

  1. The first four will be Leinster, Bulls, Glasgow, Stormers or possibly Munster. The Hive game against the latter will be pivotal if a home semi-final is to be achieved, but more important and realistic is a spot in the top eight to secure top-flight European rugby next year. Which would still require a strong finish and considerably more guts that was in evidence in the recent South African debacle. The team has all the talent in the world, but it needs some true grit to succeed.

  2. It’s a decent run in, so I do expect a strong finish to the regular season for Edinburgh.

    I hate to be yet another person whingeing in the comments section, but I really don’t like the current trend of calling the league table a log. I know, it’s small and petty, but it really bothers me for some reason.

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  3. And maybe a few 4 try bonus points along the way would also be nice Jamie, starting with Saturday night!

    • Bonus points when we win may well make a huge difference as to where we end up.

      Anyone know if Darcy and Bof are anywhere near a return?

      • From an article earlier this week;

        ‘Everitt added that Harry Paterson, who has not played since the start of March due to a foot injury, is the only member of Edinburgh’s walking wounded with a chance of coming back into the selection mix for this Saturday night’s home URC clash against Scarlets.

        “It’s not 100 per cent that he will play on the weekend. It will just depend if he has any flare-ups in the morning. We could have a settled bunch. I am looking to rest two players,” he said.’

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